Harrogate Town 1-1 Lowestoft Town: Paddy McLaughlin header earns Town draw

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  • Swirling wind dominates mid-table contest
  • Lowestoft take first half lead from penalty spot
  • Fine team goal brings Town level on 78 minutes through McLaughlin
  • Attendance: 435
  • Advertiser Series man of the match: Jordan Thewlis

Paddy McLaughlin’s excellently crafted equaliser salvaged a point for Harrogate Town in a wind-affected mid-table dual against Lowestoft Town.

Lowestoft went into the break in-front when Jack Ainsley’s penalty brought to life an otherwise dull first half.

But midfielder McLaughlin earned a share of the spoils with his first goal in Town colours.

The on-loan Grimsby man capped a fine Town move with a neat header in front of Lowestoft keeper Ashlee Jones.

Cecil Nyoni could have grabbed the points in the dying moment but he spooned a chance over when under pressure five yards out.

The match was dominated by the blustery conditions at the CNG Stadium and both teams found it hard to get a grip on proceedings.

Jordan Thewlis. (1502073AM3)

Jordan Thewlis. (1502073AM3)

The draw meant Simon Weaver’s Harrogate side has picked up just two points in a run of three matches against lower opposition.

Town have now failed to win ten of their 18 home matches in Vanarama Conference North this season, while Lowestoft remain with the second worst away record.

Dave McGurk returned to captain the Town line-up after missing the last four fixtures, while Louie Swain started at left-back after suspension ruled him out of the 2-0 defeat against Colwyn Bay on March 21.

Ryan Fallowfield’s burgeoning partnership with Jack Emmett bore fruit after eight minutes when the former almost fluked Town in front. The former Hull City man’s swung across a deep delivery from a trademark overlapping run, and Lowestoft keeper Jones tipped onto the crossbar.

The swirling wind was causing both teams all kind of problems with the high ball impossible to predict.

Lowestoft found their rhythm as they adjusted to the conditions. When they finally threatened the Town penalty area, Leigh Franks’ trip on striker Shaun Bammant gave referee Iain Turner with no option other than awarding a penalty. After a momentary pause, with the ball drifting off the penalty spot, right-back Jack Ainsley, Lowestoft’s top scorer, powered the spot-kick past Peter Crook’s despairing dive. The keeper got a finger to the ball, but failed to prevent it hitting the corner of the net.

Town looked rattled by the goal, and a succession of poor passes and miscontrolled touches followed.

Simon Weaver’s men did fashion one glorious opportunity five minutes before the break, but Paul Clayton’s effort was excellently saved.

Weaver brought new signing James Cadman on for the booked Luke Shiels at half-time and he almost made a dream start to life in a yellow and black shirt. Within 40 seconds, he controlled the ball on the edge of the box and struck a precise volley towards the top corner. However he was denied the glory by Jones who touched it onto the post and away for a corner.

The Suffolk visitors have won just twice on their travels since gaining promotion into the league last season but they would have been on the long road south with a third had it not been for Town goalkeeper Crook.

Left without much to do for most of the match, he produced a fine stop against visiting winger Chris Henderson on 61 minutes to keep his side in the contest. Henderson had dribbled past Franks and was left with only Crook to beat, but his low shot was turned over just over the bar by Town’s young stopper.

That led to the brilliant team equaliser six minutes later. The moved started for Town with Fallowfield deep in his own half. Passes were exchanged through the midfield before it escaped to Swain on the left wing, the former Bradford City youngster hit the byline and stood up a cross onto McLaughlin’s head, with the midfielder caressing it into the net.

With little under ten minutes to go, the tails began to wag for the home side, with Jack Emmett, Cadman and Thewlis free-spirits behind Clayton.

But the winner remained elusive despite McLaughlin’s late free-kick deflecting wide and Nyoni scooping over at the death.

The single point leaves Town 13th with only five matches left to play. Weaver’s men are as good as safe, with a win next Saturday at Stalybridge almost certain to confirm it mathematically.